Antibiotics are supposed to treat disease and assist in kidney transplantation, but various bacteria have developed biological resistance to antibiotics, rendering the antibiotics useless. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that antibiotic-resistant bacteria cause two million illnesses and 23,000 deaths each year. This is why the Administration is currently taking steps to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria. While antibiotics assist in kidney transplantation, healthcare antiseptics are supposed to reduce bacteria that can cause disease on your dialysis equipment or in your dialysis facility. These healthcare antiseptics include hand washes and rubs, surgical hand scrubs and rubs (with or without water) and patient preoperative skin preparations, including pre-injection preparations. (These products are different from consumer antiseptics, such as antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizer rubs.) The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is also taking steps to ensure that healthcare antiseptics are safe and effective.

In September 2014, President Obama issued Executive Order 13676: Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria. This Executive Order addressed the policy recommendations of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST)’s report on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria. The President also proposed to nearly double funding for combating and preventing antibiotic resistance to $1.2 billion, and released a National Action Plan outlining how the money should be spent over the next five years. The Plan’s goals are to prevent the emergence and spread of resistant bacteria; strengthen health surveillance and point-of-need diagnostic tests to detect resistant bacteria earlier; research antibiotic resistance and develop new antibiotics; and improve international collaboration to overcome antibiotic resistance.

As with antibiotics, bacteria can also develop resistance to healthcare antiseptics. This prompted the FDA to issue a proposed rule to address gaps in data on active ingredients in healthcare antiseptics. The FDA’s goal is to determine whether healthcare antiseptics reduce bacteria like they are supposed to, and also to determine the extent to which patients’ daily exposure to certain antiseptic active ingredients puts them at risk. In the meantime, the FDA recommends healthcare personnel continue to use such antiseptics while it gathers more data.